Thursday, October 18, 2007

Expedition planning #6 - The final touches

First of all, apologies to my regular readers for dropping out on you with no warning. It has been over a month since my last post, and the time has flown.

In this time I/we have:

  • sent a malfunctioning acquisition system back to the supplier for repair, which action engendered a comedy of errors with our not-to-be named, least favorite customs broker;
  • tested all hardware being sent to Antarctica every which way possible short of destruction testing;
  • designed, written, tested, debugged, re-designed, re-tested the software which should enable us to have access to the data from our temporary field stations with some regularity;
  • traveled to Rome and back to coordinate the summer and winter campaigns with the Italian colleagues with whom we run the Concordia seismic observatory, and with those who are trying to get their own funding for an International Polar Year experiment;
  • spent an evening on the ice at the local ice-rink as part of a nation-wide IPY-themed initiative, La Nuit des Chercheurs - Researchers' Night, during which we entertained skaters with our tales of Antarctica, and counted the number of their spectacular falls by recording them on our portable seismograph;
  • spent two days teaching the 2008 Concordia station chief, Jean-Francois Vanacker, all about the observatory station there, and what he needs to do to make sure it keeps running (he's a great guy, we're confident he will do an excellent job);
  • been to see: a radiologist for a chest X-ray and lung capacity test; a cardiologist for an electrocardiogram; my dentist to have a wisdom tooth pulled; an clinical analysis center to have a full suite of blood tests; the university doctor for a general checkup; all this so we can be certified fit enough to work in Antarctica;
  • spent one half day each chatting to kids, parents, teachers, and other generally interested punters at another outreach initiative, La FĂȘte de la Science - Science Fair, which was - in a fit of originality - also geared towards the International Polar Year;
  • packed nearly all our equipment first in sealed plastic wrap (to guard against humidity followed by Antarctic temperatures, the combination of which leads to things being frozen solid), then in aluminum cases for shipping out to Hobart by air-freight (no cardboard allowed, as freight has to be sprayed before entering Australian territory)...
... and much more that has slipped my mind for the time being, or maybe for good!

I will make no promises - for what good is a promise if I am forced to break it - but I shall try to post more regularly now the most time critical expedition planning is over, and I can breathe relatively freely once more.

Keep up to date with the latest developments at


Anonymous said... have been busy...good luck with everything

Alessia Maggi said...

Thanks! A good dose of luck would come in handy!

Unknown said...

i'm curious, where did you get the aluminum cases for air freight that you're talking about?

Alessia Maggi said...


I need to wait for a colleague to return from vacation to answer your query about the aluminum cases.

I shall get back to you as soon as I can.

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